Modern man has formed a curiously distorted picture of himself, by interpreting his early history in terms of his present interests in making machines and conquering nature. And then in turn he has justified his present concerns by calling his prehistoric self a tool-making animal, and assuming that the material instruments of production dominate all his other activities.
L. Mumford, “The Mindfulness of Man” in The Myth of the Machine.
In most departments, and not least in science, a certain blind assurance prevailed, distorting observation and undermining judgement. The physicists, the guild whose later discoveries would shake the foundations of civilization, were wide of the mark in their neat assumptions about the nature of the physical world: they did not, as Henry Adams soon discovered, accept radium easily. Having forgotten the enlightening intuitions of Michael Faraday, who from the beginning had rejected their too tidy conception of atomism, the exponents of the exact sciences were convinced that they had already staked out the ultimate boundaries of the material universe and that no new discoveries of radical importance would be made; their ideology found no place for invisible internal activities or unfathomable depths.
Lewis Mumford on science at the turn of the twentieth century. L. Mumford, My Works and Days (1979), p. 4.